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Columbus Latin American Association

 
Background Brief History
The earliest settlements in the Americas are of the Las Vegas Culture from about 8000 BC and 4600 BC, a sedentary group from the coast of Ecuador, the forefathers of the more known Valdivia culture, of the same era. Some groups formed more permanent settlements such as the Chibchas (or "Muiscas" or "Muyscas") and the Tairona groups. The Chibchas of Colombia, the Quechuas and Aymaras of Bolivia and Perú were the three Indian groups that settled most permanently.


The region was home to many indigenous peoples and advanced civilizations, including the Aztecs, Toltecs, Caribs, Tupi, Maya, and Inca. The golden age of the Maya began about 250, with the last two great civilizations, the Aztecs and Incas, emerging into prominence later on in the early fourteenth century and mid-fifteenth centuries, respectively.


With the arrival of the Europeans following Christopher Columbus's voyages, the indigenous elites, such as the Incans and Aztecs, lost power to the Europeans. Hernán Cortés destroyed the Aztec elite's power with the help of local groups who disliked the Aztec elite, and Francisco Pizarro eliminated the Incan rule in Western South America. European powers, most notably Spain and Portugal, colonized the region, which along with the rest of the uncolonized world was divided into areas of Spanish and Portuguese control by the Line of Demarcation in 1493, which gave Spain all areas to the west, and Portugal all areas to the east (the Portuguese lands in South America subsequently becoming Brazil). Following the model of the U.S. and French revolutions, most of Latin America achieved its independence by 1825. However, Europe and the United States continued to play major roles.


The independence of Latin American countries rendered many of the older colonial power structures obsolete and helped create a new, self-consciously "Latin American" ruling class and intelligentsia. It should be noted, however, that even post independence, the dominant culture remained exclusively European, Catholic and "Western", with little input from remaining indigenous peoples until recent times.
Customs, Traditions & Celebrations Hispanic countries celebrate the more popular international holidays, notably Easter, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year's Day, and the Three Kings' Day. In addition, each country celebrates its El Dia de Independencia. The term fiesta nacional refers to an official national holiday; las fiestas refer to festivals - local, regional, or national - that may be held only one day or may last several days. Most holidays are centered on or have their origins in religion. Many celebrations of the Catholic Church are officially designated by the government as holidays. National government offices may be closed or have limited hours for local or regional holidays.
Lifestyle Cuisine

Latin America is a very diverse area of land that holds various cuisines that vary from nation to nation.


Some items typical of Latin American cuisine include maize-based dishes (tortillas, tamales, pupusas) and various salsas and other condiments (guacamole, pico de gallo, mole). These spices are generally what give the Latin American cuisines a distinct flavor; yet, each country of Latin America tends to use a different spice and those that share spices tend to use them at different quantities. This leads for a variety across the land.


Latin American beverages are just as distinct as their foods. Some of the beverages can even date back to the times of the Native Americans. Some popular beverages include mate, Pisco Sour, horchata, chicha, atole, cacao and aguas frescas.


Desserts in Latin America include dulce de leche, alfajor, arroz con leche, tres leches cake, Teja and flan.


Family Values
Traditionally, the Hispanic family is a close-knit group and the most important social unit. The term familia usually goes beyond the nuclear family. The Hispanic "family unit" includes not only parents and children but also extended family. In most Hispanic families, the father is the head of the family, and the mother is responsible for the home. Individuals within a family have a moral responsibility to aid other members of the family experiencing financial problems, unemployment, poor health conditions, and other life issues.


Family ties are very strong: when someone travels to another town or city to study or for a short visit (e.g., vacation, business, medical reasons), staying with relatives or even with friends of relatives is a common practice. Families often gather together to celebrate holidays, birthdays, baptisms, first communions, graduations, and weddings. Hispanic families instill in their children the importance of honor, good manners, and respect for authority and the elderly. Preserving the Spanish language within the family is a common practice in most Hispanic homes.

 

Additional information regarding Latin America may be found at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin_America